My Escape from Domestic Abuse
It was unusual and difficult for me to define the problem for many years. My situation was based on psychological, emotional abuse. The slowly evolving elimination of all that identified me as me. Constant, repetitive disdain that grew in to veiled threats. First the arts, then the friends, then the family. All eliminated. Then the training of my children to abhor my beliefs and disrespect my opinions.
Ever so slow and methodical. I found myself apologizing and trying to “fix” myself because I refused to “fail” in my marriage and “ruin” my children’s lives. Eventually, after years of false accusations of infidelity and never ending nights of sleep deprivation, (he would not allow me to sleep unless I admitted to the numerous affairs he had manufactured in his mind. I never had affairs so I would be doomed to his repetitive accusations until 3 or 4 in the morning.) He threatened to disappear with the children if I ever considered leaving. Taking them on a boat so that I would never see them again.
Near the end I had a, “no after dark”, curfew for leaving our property. Not even to the corner store for milk.
One day a person rode by our house on a bicycle. I was emptying the trash. He looked in our driveway. I suffered 3 weeks of sleep deprivation accused of having an affair. Something clicked. “I cannot allow my daughter to feel comfortable with this energy. I am promoting unhealthy living to my children by trying to succeed for them. Today I will change this”.
I sent the children to play at a friends house. After years of accommodating this man’s controlling behavior I said, “This stops today. I would like a divorce. I will not live like this ever again. ” He felt my resolve to his core. He was stunned. He fell to the floor and sobbed. He sobbed and begged for some time. When he realized there was no change in my resolve he became angry. He began the name calling and tried his methodical insults. No change. He switched to trying to convince me to commit suicide. Recommending that he would help me do it because it would be better for the children than to come from a divorced home. He looked for a rope. Suggested the rat poison. Offered anti-freeze. He was adamant. When he realized this method was not an option he decided to implement his final plan. He became physical. He kicked me from my chair, knocking me across the kitchen. I jumped up. He threw me against a wall. He kicked my head in to the wall. I stood up.
He carried me to our bed and attempted to strangle me. I broke free. Enraged he ripped his own shirt in half. I stood up. He chased me around the house. I was fast. I kicked out the screen of a bedroom and jumped out. I ran. He got in his truck and roared down the street. I was running down the street and jumped behind a tree before he hit me. He went back to the house. It took some time for me to find a neighbor home on our desolate street.
I called 911 and waited . . . and waited . . . and when the police arrived they arrested me. “Ma’am, your husband called us before you did. He reported you as the abuser. We respond to the first call. I was beaten, bruised and had welts around my neck. I was charged and booked. I was put in a cell. The next day he reported me to CPS and IRS. He moved out of our house with the children and everything related to the children. When I was released from jail it was impossible to tell there had ever been children in my home. I was assigned to supervised visitation with my children at the YMCA. One hour a week for 7 weeks. He cancelled my car insurance, electricity, and turned me in for nursing fraud to the agency that supplies care for my terminally ill son.
I followed the rules. I endured the investigations. I stood.
At the first court date he acted as his own lawyer. Claiming “nobody else is as intelligent as I am”. He put me on the stand. I told my story. He used the word “punishment”, numerous times while examining me. He was hateful and odd.
On that day I was granted a TRO, my children were returned to me. I was eventually cleared of all charges. The investigations all found me innocent.
I am still standing.
If you are in an abusive situation that you feel you can not safely leave, seek help.
*Tell Somebody. If you have covered it up for so long that it is hard for those around you to believe, tell it anyway.
*Contact a Domestic Violence Prevention Advocate or call the HotLine: 1-800-799-7233 | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)
*If you are monitored by your abuser go to the library or use a friends computer to view the Domestic Violence Website: http://www.thehotline.org/help/
*When you escape file a restraining order ASAP. The piece of paper cannot protect you from physical attacks, but if you are threatened or attacked and you have the piece of paper it can cause a quicker, easier conviction and jail time for your abuser. If you are killed by your abuser the restraining order points the police in the right direction.
*Attend meetings for survivors of domestic abuse. Swallow your pride and go to these meetings. Every city has domestic shelters and classes. They are free. I was court assigned to a 12 week course. It was mortifying at first because I did not view myself as “one of those women”. The class ultimately changed the course of my life by giving me information and tools to step away from patterns of abuse and victimization.
*If you are abused you have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not weak. You deserve your freedom and your own voice. Please leave the situation. You can do it. I did it.